Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos: Players to Watch

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Dec 6, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) reacts after the Raiders were called for a neutral zone infraction against the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Khalil Mack

Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler is now 3-0 as a starter, one of his wins being over the then undefeated New England Patriots in overtime. The fourth-year quarterback is 73-119 on the season with 832 passing yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions, via ESPN.com.

Given that he has taken on much more of a game manager role in comparison to Peyton Manning, Osweiler’s play has led to an improved running game and has allowed their defense to take advantage of poor filed position rather than coming after one of Manning’s nine interceptions. With that being said, Oakland’s top defensive player Khalil Mack must put together another stellar performance in order to limit Osweiler and the Broncos’ offensive attack.

Mack has been an effective pass-rusher all season long, as he has already accumulated nine sacks this year, including four sacks over the last two weeks. The former first-round pick has proven that he can get the quarterback anyway he wants to this season, as he can both effectively bull-rush his opponent or even use his quickness to get by defenders on the outside. Mack’s dominance was on full display against Kansas City in Week 13.

Though he is primarily talked about as an excellent pass-rusher, Mack should also have a significant impact in the run game. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Mack has graded out as the No. 4 run defender among all edge-rushers in the NFL.


With both Denver tackles Ryan Harris and Michael Schofield having inconsistent season to say the least, expect Mack to look to take over this game early. While he likely understands that Oakland’s playoff hopes are relatively nonexistent, Mack doesn’t tolerate letting his foot off the gas under any circumstance.

Next: Players to Watch: Donald Penn